FILM: Red Lights
X-Files fans, this one’s for you. Red Lights, the latest film from director/writer Rodrigo Cortés, follows the quest of two scientists to disprove the paranormal, whatever the cost may be. Margaret Matheson (Sigourney Weaver) and Tom Buckley (Cillian Murphy) are like a pair of Scullys, walking into each situation looking for the simplest reason why such phenomena cannot be true. However, when blind psychic Simon Silver (Robert De Niro) comes out of retirement, Buckley is overwhelmed by a Mulder-like passion to prove the man a fraud, even as Margaret begs him to leave the psychic alone.
Buckley’s personal life begins to unravel as he seems to be cursed for daring to expose Silver. This isn’t the sort of thriller that makes you leap in your seat or gasp out in horror. Instead, it’s a puzzle that delves ever deeper into darkness, as Silver even offers himself up for testing by a team of scientists led by Matheson and Buckley’s university colleague and nemesis, Dr. Paul Shackleton (Toby Jones). The film doesn’t hand you everything you need to unravel its secrets, though the plot twist at the end is well-timed and intriguing. I guessed the ending, but I was still satisfied with how it played out.
Cortés builds a fascinating thriller as he contrasts De Niro’s affable smugness with Murphy’s explosive emotions. Every actor in the cast gives a great performance, but Elizabeth Olsen’s presence felt entirely unnecessary as Sally Owen, Buckley’s much younger student/girlfriend who he often casts aside for the sake of continuing his investigation. A romantic subplot really didn’t progress the storyline at all, and removing that part of the story would have made for a tighter, tenser thriller. Red Lights won’t startle you, but it may make you think, and few movies can boast as much lately.
Red Lights opens in theaters on July 13.